As the rest of the leaders at the U.S. Open on Sunday saw their scores backing up, Webb Simpson was able to bring his down. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting or dramatic final days at a major championship, but it certainly supplied a rather unlikely winner.
While Simpson has won on the PGA Tour, even he said he was hoping to simply gain valuable experience by playing in the Open this past week. Instead, he came from behind, shooting 2-under 68 in the final round and watching as the leaders crumbled down the stretch, allowing him to win with a 1-over score for the tournament.
Webb Simpson joined WFNZ in Charlotte with The Drive to discuss when he first thought he could win the Open, playing with less pressure because he was coming from behind, contending for more majors going forward, the play of Tiger Woods, comparing this course to those he plays on a weekly basis and the heckler during his trophy presentation.
When did the thought creep first creep into your mind that you could win the U.S. Open?:
“I didn’t look at the board until I was done putting on 18. I just didn’t think it could help me in any way. I never had a thought that I can’t win, but I didn’t expect to win this early. I’ve only played in four majors prior, so more than anything I was just looking to gain experience through the week. I found myself there on the back nine in contention, so I figured I better take advantage of it because it doesn’t come often.”
Did it help that you were coming from back in the pack on Saturday and Sunday so there wasn’t a lot of added pressure?:
“I think so. Playing in a final group would have certainly been a lot more pressure I think, just given the circumstances and the pressure surrounding that in itself. I figured being the fourth-to-last group was a great place for me to be because I’m close to the leaders, but I’m far enough ahead where I can make some birdies and make some noise and put a little pressure on them coming in.”
Nine first-time major winners in a row. Do you expect to contend for more of them going forward?:
“I hope you see me in more majors because I sure love playing in them. But, like I said, the more experience I get, I think the better I’ll play. I was able to fortunately feel the pressure and know what to expect in the U.S. Open. So next time I’m in contention, I think it’ll pay off kind of knowing what to expect and what the feelings are like.”
Do you think there’s something wrong with Tiger Woods’ game, perhaps psychologically, or is it there and he’s just got to put it together?:
“I think he gets so much criticism when he doesn’t win, but the fact is he’s won two huge tournaments this year already. … I have so much respect for the guy. He’s won 14 majors and I’ve only won one and having gone through what I did yesterday, I realize that winning 14 is far more spectacular than I thought. But his game’s there. I think the game is so competitive right now that it’s harder to win now than ever. I think he’s going to win a lot more.”
How much harder was that course compared to the courses you play week-in and week-out?:
“It’s so much harder. Everything about it is harder. The greens are firm and fast, the rough’s up, the fairways are firm. And Olympic’s such a great venue because there’s one fairway bunker on the whole golf course, I’m pretty sure, and no water hazards to speak of really, that come into play. You take a golf course with no water hazards and one bunker and it’s that hard, you know you’ve got a fair, tough test in front of you. It was a course where you can make birdies, but also if you didn’t think about where you were trying to place your approach shot, you could make bogeys and doubles so quickly.”
On the goofy guy who interrupted his victory celebration:
“It was so awkward; I didn’t know what else to do. Mike Davis just kind of blindsided him and gave him the right hook, which I was proud of. But it was just a funny, awkward moment and I didn’t let it bother me in any way. I knew the guy was probably intoxicated and he was going to get handcuffed pretty quick.”